Ched Evans is probably a vile person. I probably wouldn't like him if I met him. But that means nothing. There are many vile people out there and many are in the most lofty positions in our establishment. Open the newspapers today and you'll probably see dozens of headlines which make you suck your teeth and think: hope the bastards get what they deserve.
'Getting what you deserve' is the cornerstone of our system of law. It's important in a modern legal system that we find a more humane version of the old dictum about 'an eye for an eye'. Ched Evans was convicted of rape and the system did whatever it is that the system does to convicted rapists. He then left prison.
And now he can't find a place to resume his former life playing football because any club seeking to sign him is immediately the subject of campaigns to prevent the signing. The media, of course, treat it lightly. This is new territory and everybody is afraid of Twitter justice, where things escalate quickly and without serious debate. It all feels like being the subject of a schoolyard vendetta, where everybody turns on you for no reason other than you're the person they've chosen to victimise this week. Of course, there is a reason to victimise Evans. He's a convicted rapist. And that's why it's very noticeable that the news channels report the Evans story but rarely comment on it. To comment would be to raise points which are unpopular. One unpopular point would be: how is this any different to mob justice? How is the Ched Evans case different to so many cases we see? How is it different to the example of Mike Tyson, another convicted rapist, who is now lauded as a boxing great and with cameo appearances in hugely popular films which earn millions at the box office and without any word of rebuke from the Twitter enforcers.
How is it that one high profile public figure can be accused of villainy without the public seeming to care much of a hoot about bringing him to justice, whilst some other high profile figure is locked up for committing far lesser crimes and then treated as Public Enemy Number One.
None of it makes sense.
The only difference is that we live in the age of memes of all things. These active 'ideas' spread like a virus and infect the particularly dumb. The Ched Evans campaigns have the intellectual depth of a grumpy cat meme. We're all meant to shout 'bastard' but we could equally be shouting 'cute' or 'LOL' or whatever the current dumb phrase happens to be. There's no debate about the allegations, the fact that the legal process has been served. If there was a problem with his conviction, then anger should be directed towards the system and the Attorney General. Yet it isn't because this is about something else. It might well be something new: new ways of raising a mob and the way powerless individuals can feel a sense of power. It might be about class and privilege, the understandable envy of people who don't want to see a convicted rapist earning a fortune for his footballing skills, but wouldn't raise the same objections if he'd been some ennobled toff who went on to live a life of sleazy privilege without an ability to call his own.
Yet at what point should do these people decide that Evans can carry on with his life? If he quits football, would they allow him to become a pundit? A broadcaster? A reporter? The bloke brushing up in the Sky Sports studio? Would vagrancy be too good for him? That's an important question. Not because Evans deserves our sympathy but because any of us could become the next Ched Evans: a person hounded by a loud braying mob for reasons that go beyond the simple rule of law.
Ched Evans may well be a scumbag but furthering his punishment outside the court of law makes scumbags of us all. It's a dangerous precedent and just as much a symptom of these brutal bestial days as his original crime.